“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.” - Winston Churchill, in response.
Banter: also known as repartee, wordplay, a spot of witty conversation. You’ll know if you’re engaging in it correctly - much like other kinds of chemistry, there’s no middle ground. You’re either sailing away on good-natured teasing, or you’re not. I love to engage in it, I love to watch it, and I love to read it. There’s something about watching a couple strike mental sparks off each other that is infinitely engaging. We often get to watch couple’s physical and emotional attractions take bloom, oh but how delicious if a mental connection is there as well.
Take for example, Beatrice and Benedict: A couple that could not restrain from verbal sparring if their lives depended on it. When I first watched it on screen, I headed to the text immediately to soak it all up again. And again, and again. Their verbal dexterity wasn’t much ado about nothing, that’s for sure. Watch this:
Don't believe me? Watch this clip here from Casino Royale. James Bond is meeting Vesper Lynd for the first time. Banter is on the menu. But notice how the screenwriters weave in our character’s backstories round that banter? Within one scene, we know that she is a supposedly principled, degreed professional, with a similar background to our hero, who can match him at his game, and even win. Did she launch into some boring conversation about how accounting was her life’s passion? No. Did he explain that he was an orphan who went to a posh school, pass me the wine, please? No. What we got were two people interacting, playing a game with each other, testing each other for weakness. We also got a bit of exposition - what’s to come. We now know that she is good at lying - she can bluff. Which is both important exposition and character reveal, as anyone who’s watched this film will know. As Bond noted, he’ll be ‘skewered’.
Which bring me to the next scene from Body Heat.
Bantering is not just about verbal conflict. Did you notice the themes emerging in those examples? Bluffing and the big poker game in Casino Royale, the debilitating heat wave in Body Heat? How about the question/answer session of the hotshot divorce lawyer and the ‘accused’? Think of how differently Emma Stone’s character responds to Ryan Gosling’s quite witty pick-up attempts here…there won’t be conflict when they get together, as the title Crazy Stupid Love suggests. She could have been a lot harsher, but that wasn’t really the point now, was it?
And you thought banter was just about the blah blah blah!